TESTIMONIES: New discoveries & Changed Lives
"Who was this guy?"
After attending church & Sunday school weekly with my family until around the age of 14 - I stopped
attending as I was involved in lots of sports teams and we had lots of important matches on Sundays.
I had a belief in God from the lessons I had been taught over the years and with being a nature enthusiast I was inspired by all of the amazing and complex life cycles that exist in the countryside.
Picking up the bible at the age of 20 I was really surprised, quite shocked actually by what I read...
What I found as I read through the first few books in the New
Testament (Matthew / Mark / Luke etc.) was a Man full of conviction...
His name was Jesus.
This Jesus took a massive stand against the religious leaders of the day and challenged them to change.
This Jesus had kindness and compassion on the weak and needy in society... he didnt just teach it - he showed it.
This Jesus also told people the truth about their characters that they so needed to hear and he showed and taught what love for God and our fellow man really was supposed to be.
The little Baby, acted out in nativity plays around the country and regularly mocked on the likes
of shows like Top Gear on TV etc, grew into a man who made a remarkable
impact in his society.
While I knew about and had been taught the Biblical stories of Noah, Jonah, Joseph, Samson etc. the call of Jesus to a completely radical lifestyle (ie: how you live everyday) to
serve others and not yourself was a stark contrast to being a "Regular Church Goer" or simply a "Believer in God" which many of us assume that is all the God wants.
Samson & Goliath cranes in Belfast...
The Biblical Influence is visible in the City..
One of the Scriptures that really stood out is from the Book of John:
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said,
“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32
Our initial thoughts can be "why is jesus challenging someone who already believes...??"
It's only when we walk (live) as he did and actually do the things that he taught (not just be aware of them) can we then call ourselves a true follower.
I liked that this scripture is like a challenge with a promise.. if you do this - then you will know!
Why not take the challenge yourself... and maybe your life can be completely changed by this man of conviction.
“Determined the times and exact places where we would live” (Acts 17:26)
Maybe the answer was right in front of me (and you) all along!!!!
Growing up I was always brought to church and was inspired by the buildings, made up of
fancy albeit old seats, pillars, statues and ornate pictures on the walls. I figured that God
must be powerful and mighty and I could see this in the world around me, through nature
and the complex design of the human body which so inspired me that I went on to study
Physiotherapy at the University of Ulster.
As my life as a young man was full of stress and troubles, in part due to family divisions and
the sectarianism of the environment around me I wondered if this powerful God really
cared about me and my small problems. Did he really care if my father left, did he care if
someone picked on me at school, did he care if I felt isolated and alone at times. After
choosing to go after my own solutions I was left with nothing but more uncertainty and a
deep personal insecurity.
I then decided that I would look further into this great and powerful Gods word and find out
how he really feels about me. Surprisingly I found out that his message was that he created
all men and actually determined the time that they would live and where they would live. I
also learned that all this was done so that I (and all other men and women) would choose to
seek him although he is not far away from anyone. Just as it did to me this idea may surprise
The conclusion of such truth is that I realised that I’m no accident just as we’re not a series
of biological accidents in a world of meaningless chaos.
I then devoted myself to the study of God's chosen method of communicating with man (his
word) and found the thing I always sought and what I believe God always wanted to give
TRUE & LASTING PURPOSE.
If your life is without true meaning and purpose then take God at his word. He promises that
those who seek will find him when they go after him with all their heart.
“All I wanted to do was live the rest of my life for Him."
I travelled to London from my home country at the age of 21, excited about seeing the world.
For my first 2 years away from home I guess I was seeking happiness, excitement, adventure and fun.
However, I only hurt myself through the lifestyle I chose to live.
To an outsider looking in, it may have appeared I was doing just fine.
I was living in London, I had a permanent & secure job, was making friends and living the single life.
But deep inside I felt empty, a yearning for something more, a yearning for God to change my life, however, there was a problem. I wasn't sure He existed anymore.
I felt that my life was so 'rubbish' surely He didn't exist.
So one night out of sheer desperation I insisted He show Himself to me there in my room. He didn't :-).
However, soon after someone gave me a New Testament bible to read.
The gospels inspired me so much I began to search for a church.
After visiting many, I was given a personal invitation to a service in our London church.
As I studied the bible with the women in church I learnt of God's amazing love & grace for me through Jesus' sacrifice.
All I wanted to do was live the rest of my life for Him.
“I am so grateful to Christ..."
As an atheist growing up I never believed there was a God and thus never saw my need for him. I lived my teenage years and early 20s in a hedonistic mist living for pleasure and self.
Once I managed to scrape into Manchester university, two main things affected my life to the point where I completely & unexpectedly developed a walking & talking relationship with the God of the universe.
Firstly I was studying history and thus felt compelled to read the bible as a historical document
(first and foremost as a complete cynic, to prove it wrong and secondly to find all those contradictions I had always claimed I knew about).
Secondly I developed ill health due to my excessive drug use and poor lifestyle.
My physical ailments provided my need for something more than what I could see, hear, feel,
smell and touch. The physical was letting me down and I was forced to search for the spiritual. I started visiting the Manchester
Church of Christ and my pursuit into the history of the scriptures then left me totally convinced that he existed.
Through the bible studies that I got involved in I saw so many messianic prophecies in the Old Testament
fulfilled precisely in the New Testament any arguments I had fell at the way side and I had to agree with
the Bible writers that Jesus was indeed the Christ.
Whatsmore, I needed him and through prayer and repentance of my self-destructive living
I was healed of all that held me back. I am so grateful to Christ, to the church,
to my history course and my ill health for leading me to that real and life-changing relationship with God.
Info & Images - Copyright (C) Belfast Church of Christ (2016)
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